Getting to know Tom McDonald

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Tom McDonald is an Executive Vice President based in JLL’s downtown Los Angeles office. As an industry professional with 38 years of experience, his primary area of business is advising law firms on how to drive their profitability by designing and implementing real estate strategies that compliment and support their unique operating models.

Crossing the LA River with Jack during the Saddle & Sirloin Club’s annual all day ride through Griffith Park

We caught up with this industry veteran to learn his secrets to work/life balance, happiness and success in the commercial real estate industry.

How did you get into commercial real estate?
TM: I cannot remember when I was not interested in real estate.  It is what I studied in college.  What I have done the past 38 years. It’s what I always wanted to do.

What is a typical day for you?
TM: At any given time during the year, I am managing or actively participating in fifteen to twenty different tenant representation assignments.  If I wanted to visually paint a picture of my typical day it would be to line up ten different games of chess in a row, where the minimum time between moves is at least one to two weeks.

How do you measure success?
By answering “Yes” to the following questions:

  • Did I contribute to achieving my client’s objectives in a meaningful fashion?
  • Did I deliver more service than I promised?
  • Did I eliminate or substantially reduce my client’s risk?
  • Did I add demonstrative value to the transaction process and results?
  • Would they recommend me to their best friend?

Who was the biggest influence in your life?
My mother and father, without knowing it, by example, they taught me the Boy Scout Law.  And, they weren’t even Boy Scouts.

What was the best advice you’ve ever received?
My Mom told me that I have two ears and one mouth, and I should learn to use them proportionately.  I am still working on that one!

What has been the greatest, most meaningful moment of your life?
The birth of my three children, Hunter, Katie and Momo.  Getting them ready to face the rest of their life and be in a position to make a meaningful contribution to the world is the most important assignment that I have ever been given.


The McDonald Family – Katie, Eileen, Hunter, Momo and Tom

What keeps you up at night about the commercial real estate industry?
After 38 years, the industry does not keep me up at night any more. I do wake up periodically and make notes on what I need to do the next day.

How do you see technology continuing to change the commercial real estate industry?
Technology simply allows us to expedite the evaluation and delivery of potential answers to any given challenge.  Our portion of the real estate industry is totally dependent on addressing peoples’ concerns, interests, needs and desires.  It is a service business, and when we rely too heavily on technology, we lose the ability to spell the word “SERVICE”, much less deliver it to those who have requested it.

What is one trend that we will be talking about at this time next year?
I very much hope that we will be talking about how good the economy is doing.

Tom speaking at the Annual Gala for the Greater Los Angeles Area Council

What unique adventure or hobby would people say “wow”?
I am a team roper and love chasing steers. I love big game hunting, and am headed to South Africa with my son Hunter for a real safari. I love fly fishing, and build my own fly rods. I love shooting trap and even ran 100 straight this last year.

What are you passionate about?
My wife and kids, followed by the Boy Scouts and any one of the above referenced hobbies.

Do you have a favorite motto?
I am thankful that no one will be shooting at me today, and that I do not live in Fallujah.

What are you reading?
I am half way through Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” which my daughter, Katie, just gave me for Christmas.

What’s on your Spotify playlist?
What is Spotify?

What is your favorite restaurant or meal?
Medium rare petit fillet, smothered in a morel mushroom sauce, accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes, and complimented by a hardy cabernet.

Tom trout fishing

Catching brown trout on the Madison River, near Ennis, Montana

What’s on your bucket list?
Fly fishing for brown trout in Argentina; hunting kudu in Namibia; hunting for all four (4) subspecies of ibex in Spain; completing a MacNab Challenge in Scotland; running 200 straight at trap; etc.

Describe yourself in 3 words:
(Most) Thankful; (Very) Blessed; and, (Constantly) Improving

Tell us something that most people don’t know about you:
I am a closet introvert.

Recent publications and videos by Tom McDonald:

Downtown law firms, plan real estate now, thrive later

Downtown Los Angeles challenges and opportunities: How law firm tenants are adapting (video)

How the most sophisticated law firms are approaching the use of office space

Thomas G. McDonald
Executive Vice President, JLL

Tom McDonald

+1 213 239 6080
+1 213 712 3206 mobile




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